The church my husband serves and where we worship as a family is celebrating their 100th anniversary of the sanctuary. They’ve been a congregation for 135 years, but this year marks the 100th year they’ve worshipped in this particular sanctuary. 100 years of singing, praying, forgiving, loving, and hearing and sharing God’s word. 100 years of people yearning to know that they are loved. 100 years of declaring hope. 100 years of God’s grace.
They’ve done the weekend up well. Former pastors coming. Pictures and history. Worship and meals. A slide show. So much gratitude and history.
It’s been a weekend full of grand gestures, worship, and programs. Yet, it’s been in the smaller moments, the nooks and crevices, where I’ve felt something more. Something more powerful.
To begin the morning we gathered at the site of the original building. We heard how a group of people wanted a place, a grand place, to welcome all. How they wanted to build a church where people would come and hear God’s word. Where the community would experience hope.
The kids waved their streamers. My husband, Stephen, offered a prayer. And our daughter, Charlotte, looked towards her father.
I’d like to think she’s looking past her father. Towards something more. Something deeper than what she can see with her eyes. I’m hopeful she’s seeing the grandness of this community. Not the Cole Camp community but the community of saints. I’m hoping she sees that wherever she goes and whatever she does, she is not alone.
The community that supports her and loves her and knows her.
The community that has walked before her and the community that is to come.
The community that knows no bounds.
I can see it and feel it, too. Because I’m walking it now. This life of faith where we strive to see one another as God sees us. As loved. Where we walk in faith trusting that the paths we take are full of those who’ve gone before and show us the way.
With each step, I keep walking. And I keep listening for the voices of those who’ve gone before.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website: http://kimberlyknowlezeller.com or follow her work on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyKnowleZeller/